How to save money when you build your new home - Top 5 Questions for the Family Room

Home Builder with Stanton Homes - New Home Builder

What to upgrade now - and what you can do later - from a Custom Home Builder

Smart home building tips for the Family Room and Living Areas


You can save money and build your new home the way you want it - by doing some of the final details later.   

Here are the top 5 questions that will help you decide what's a must and what can wait - along with our suggestions and tips.

Top 5 Questions - How To Save Money in Your New Raleigh Home - NC Home Builders1.        What kind of flooring best fits your lifestyle?

Will babies be crawling? Will children be working on crafts, or playing with toys that require a floor you can easily clean? Are there dogs, cats, or other small pets who will be roaming the house?  There are a lot more choices than you may realize in flooring. YOU CAN UPGRADE LATER.

2.       Is a fireplace a focal point?

Do you intend to spend winter evenings relaxing in front of a fire? Consider your fireplace options. UPGRADE NOW BUT YOU CAN MAKE IT EVEN BETTER LATER.

3.       Are movies, television or music a big part of your life?

Take a look at what you can do with built-in storage or an entertainment spaces. UPGRADE NOW OR MAKE SURE IT'S FRAMED FOR LATER.

4.        Do you yearn for wide open spaces?

Ceilings heights can range widely.  Would you like a spacious feeling, with a huge cathedral ceiling, or something cozier that allows for another room on the second floor?  UPGRADE NOW.

5.       Are artistic details a must-have?

Is the visual appeal of artistic touches something you'd really love to look at in the kind of room where people will often gather? UPGRADE NOW AND PLAN FOR LATER.

How To Save Money in the Family Room - Your New Raleigh Home

Why some things need to be upgraded now: Some features will cost a lot more later.  Others might be impossible without totally ripping the house apart to make structural changes.

How some options can be upgraded later: With proper planning, homes can be constructed so that additional features can be added, changed or embellished later - as long as they don't involve structural changes, and the floor plan allows enough space.

Top 5 Questions - How To Save Money in Your New Raleigh Home - NC Home Builders1.       Flooring - how to save money

The most common flooring choices in the family room or great room are carpeting, laminate hardwood, engineered hardwood, or site-finished solid hardwood.  Carpet is usually the least expensive option, but may need to be replaced in 5-10 years, due to wear.  

Site-finished hardwood has a higher upfront cost, but with proper care and eventual refinishing, can last for the life of the home.   High-quality engineered or laminate floors can cost as much as site-finished natural hardwoods, or even more.  

Determine what the best investment is for your budget, both initially and long-term.

2.       Fireplace - how to save money

In today's homes, fireplaces are chosen more often for their visual appeal and the lure of cozy, romantic winter evenings than for traditional heating imperatives.  In 1991, 62% of new homes had a fireplace.  By 2007, only 51% of new homes included fireplaces.   And most fireplaces today are gas, rather than wood-burning.

A fireplace should be included at the building stage, due to special framing and venting requirements - but you can add to its look and feel later.  A full, floor-to-ceiling stone surround can be the most striking focal point in your home.  But talk to your builder - you can add a minimal amount of stone upfront, and plan to add more later.  

Top 5 Questions - How To Save Money in Your New Raleigh Home - NC Home Builders3.       The Television - how to save money

Think carefully about where you'll want to have your TV and other electronics.   

A special area can be designed as part of the initial construction, such as a deep, recessed area over the top of a fireplace with cubbies for different electronics, or a large, flat wall with cable and electrical outlets where you can place your large screen TV or theatre screen. 

If built-ins aren't a big deal to you, just make sure windows and walls are spaced so that there's room in between for all the things you'll want to be working with.  

4.       Entertainment Centers and Built Ins - how to save money

A beautiful, furniture grade built in with lower cabinetry, upper bookshelves, and special places for electronics can really make a room sizzle. 

But this type of upgrade can cost upwards of several thousand dollars, depending on the type and size.  Not enough room in the budget?  Talk to your builder about "framing" in preparation for future additions, including adding an outlet or two just where you'll need them later. 

A "standard" width alcove (such as 6', 8', or 9') can allow many more cabinetry options later, while a "non-standard" wall length might require more expensive custom cabinetry. 

5.       Ceiling Height - how to save money

A higher ceiling can make a home feel much larger than it actually is - and smaller, better planned homes are much more cost effective.  Vaulted or two-story ceilings are part of the structural design that can't be easily reverted later.  

If lower heating and cooling costs and more efficient use of space are more important to you than open space overhead, you might agree with the most recent trends that are replacing wide-open ceilings with a full size bonus room occupying that space - and at a fraction of typical square footage costs. 

Top 5 Questions - How To Save Money in Your New Raleigh Home - NC Home Builders6.       Special Ceiling Treatments - how to save money

Coffered ceilings are one of our most requested custom touches in family rooms.  These are usually built in the initial construction, but if your builder knows you want to add that later, he can make sure that your ceiling height and framing allows for you to add a "beam" ceiling treatment later.  

The most cost effective "detail" option for a family room ceiling?  Consider adding four to six can or recessed lights, and some two piece crown moulding around the perimeter of the room.  The lights should be added during construction, but the moulding can be added later, if desired!

Top 5 Questions - How To Save Money in Your New Raleigh Home - NC Home Builders7.       Architectural Details - how to save money

At Stanton Homes, we offer our signature archways and rounded corners as part of our standard package.  Ask your builder whether there's an extra charge before requesting these artistic elements - but if you want them, they need to be constructed as the home is built, as this is not an easy change-out later.

Another idea?  Consider a built-in art niche.  A simple art niche can be added to many locations at the framing stage, for a minimal cost.   Adding a full treatment of interior trimwork to the niche is one more idea to consider, for a cost-effective wow factor. 

Staying in Budget - and leaving room for future changes

Talk to your builder about your lifestyle, and let him help guide your choices, from layout through amenities. 

Ask your builder if they will allow you to take a second look at all your choices before making a final decision, and make sure they walk through each one of these features and any others you're considering so you know just what you're paying for - and what you really don't need to come up with until later.

Room-by-room: Smart building choices that help you stay on budget.

Watch for upcoming articles - and learn what's smart to "upgrade" in your new home, while keeping your overall budget in line. 

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Eleanor Thorne 03/23/2010 03:29 AM
  2. Rita Minion 03/24/2010 04:30 AM
  3. Rita Minion 03/24/2010 04:31 AM
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Cari Anderson
Danville, CA

This is great information. There's so much to think about when building. These tips would be good for those remodeling a room too. Thanks for the post!

Mar 22, 2010 06:10 AM #1
Leander McClain
North East, MD
Cecil & Harford County Realtor


This is excellent information.  Thanks for sharing.

Have a great day


Mar 22, 2010 07:18 AM #2
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Penny, I am a die hard wood burning fire place person. I love the smell of burning wood. Buyers have expressed more than once how they wish the fire place were wood burning. Gas is convenient, but nothing replaces the crackle and smell of wood. It is disappointing to me that so few homes are being built with fireplaces, especially in cooler climates. Here in Jacksonville, we get enough cold weather to really be able to enjoy a fire during winter months.

Mar 24, 2010 03:19 AM #3
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Cari - absolutely, many of the same concepts apply to remodeling.

Sharon - I totally understand, I prefer wood burning as well too.  But there are some jurisdictions that no longer allow traditional wood burning fireplaces, due to air quality restrictions.  Some homebuyers insist that no fireplace be included, others include a fireplace on their "must-have" list. 

Mar 24, 2010 03:43 AM #4
Rita Minion
O'Brien Realty - Solomons, MD

Hi Penny,

I just love your posts!  Always filled with such great information!  Thank you!



Mar 24, 2010 04:25 AM #5
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Rita - glad you enjoy, I love to write about new homes and home improvement ideas!

May 14, 2010 01:13 AM #6
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